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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know there is plenty written here on this subject but my question is slightly different.

I bought a MY 2001+ 3-spoke M-steering wheel (with the tri-colored stitching) through Cirlcle BMW ($340 through mail order, otherwise list is close to $500), part number 32 34 2 282 020. I agreed to exchange my current MY2000 3-spoke M-steering wheel with a friend for his 2003 3-spoke sport steering wheel off his 2003 330CI, the only reason being I need his airbag as I cannot use my current one with the new wheel. I believe the part # of his airbag is 33109680803, which in turn is interchangable with part # 32306757891.

I am close to 100% certain that his airbag will fit my newly acquired steering wheel (if someone can confirm, I will be that much surer). However the only question remains whether my 2000 3-spoke M-steering wheel (with included airbag) will fit in his 2003 330CI? Will it be a straight fit, does he need to get a special slip ring, or is it impossible to fit?

Cheers
 

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I did a little research on this when I was looking into doing it, and I found at least 10+ different part numbers all for the same circular air bag. I have no idea why, maybe they have a different part number for each model, or some differences due to production runs. But the circular air bag from your friends 2003 330CI sport steering wheel will definitely fit your new M steering wheel.

As far as your older M wheel fitting his 330CI, I am unsure. However, since both old and new steering wheels mount identically, with the exception of the slip ring, in theory it should fit perfectly.

You need a new slip ring to connect your circular air bag, your new steering wheel should have included one, or you can use his old one since he no longer needs it. The connection for your older air bag is built into it and he just needs to connect it to his car, and it should plug right in. I'm not 100% positive if all this will work as I have never done it, but I don't know of any reason that this would be wrong. Maybe someone can confirm?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Amir M5 said:
I did a little research on this when I was looking into doing it, and I found at least 10+ different part numbers all for the same circular air bag. I have no idea why, maybe they have a different part number for each model, or some differences due to production runs. But the circular air bag from your friends 2003 330CI sport steering wheel will definitely fit your new M steering wheel.

As far as your older M wheel fitting his 330CI, I am unsure. However, since both old and new steering wheels mount identically, with the exception of the slip ring, in theory it should fit perfectly.

You need a new slip ring to connect your circular air bag, your new steering wheel should have included one, or you can use his old one since he no longer needs it. The connection for your older air bag is built into it and he just needs to connect it to his car, and it should plug right in. I'm not 100% positive if all this will work as I have never done it, but I don't know of any reason that this would be wrong. Maybe someone can confirm?
Thanks, Amir. Your pointers are very helpful. I am also pretty sure that his airbag will fit the new M steering wheel (and just like you I discovered there are a myriad of part numbers for virtually the same airbag!)

My main issue is whether he can make use of my old M 3-spoke steering wheel. I've seen people easily upgrade regular E39s with the non-sport package - i.e with the 4-spoke wheel - to the 2000 style M 3-spoke wheel. I take comfort in the fact that the 4-spoke E39 non-sport steering wheel is the same as that in the E46 3-series non-sport models, so if one can put my current steering wheel in the E39s, there is a very good chance that it will fit on a E46.

I am curious about the slip ring - my new steering wheel did not come with one. I've received somewhat conflicting views, some people have stated that the newer steering wheels (I guess by that they mean mid 99+ MYs that come with 2-stage air bags) don't require a slip ring. Any idea if that holds true? Looking at the two links in this post http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=50883, my take away is that no slip rings are needed (or should be exchanged). Other than that, the connectors/plugs are all the same, the only slight difference that shouldn't have any impact is that in the 2000 steerng wheel two of the connectors plug through the airbag, while in the newer steering wheels those are part of the steering wheel itself.

I guess if no one can confirm, the only solution is to try it out, which I will do this coming weekend. Hopefully, someone else has had experience in this and can chime in. Thanks
 

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You found my old post!

Here's another one with some useful info:

http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=55746&highlight=slip+ring

It seems that the cars built from 3/99 to 9/99 are the only ones that need the slip ring, so ignore my previous comment about that, unless your build date falls within that range.

If your build date is after 9/99 all you need is your new steering wheel and the circular air bag.

cosioboy said:
Other than that, the connectors/plugs are all the same, the only slight difference that shouldn't have any impact is that in the 2000 steerng wheel two of the connectors plug through the airbag, while in the newer steering wheels those are part of the steering wheel itself.
That is it. The connections for the 2000 air bag are built into it, and the connections for the 01+ are part of the steering wheel.

The more I think about it, the more I think this should be a direct swap. The only problem would be if your build date was between 3/99 and 9/99, or if your friend had an older e46, but his is a 2003 as stated.

Post some pics when you try it out, I hope everything works out okay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey Amir,

Didn't realize this was your post originally. Good job, I found this one, as well as the related thread very helpful indeed.

My build date is 01/00, so I have the newer fitment which won't require a slip ring, making the swap that much easier. So far, every indication I have received suggests this E39-E46 swap ought to work, let's hope that is the case indeed.

Will keep you updated and will try and take some pics this weekend. Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Worked like a DREAM! I couldn't wait till the weekend, so I did the steering wheel swap last night. It was all a 30 minute exercise - and that includes total time on both cars. Excellent directions from Amir - many cheers, bud! :cheers:

While there was never a question in my mind that the 2001+ steering wheel would fit on my Beast, I was a bit concerned whether my 2000 3-spoke M-steering wheel (older style) would fit on my friends 2004 330Ci coupe (with the sports package). Well it did! Since both his and mine were 2nd generation airbags, there was no need for slip rings or the like. We didn't even get the Airbag warning lights activated afterwards. ;)

Simple steps: disconnect battery, wait several minutes - this is actually an important detail and I'd like to stress it for future reference. This is an official story: several years ago there was a horrible accident in which a vehicle was completely smashed from behind such that the battery was knocked out immediately upon impact. As a result, there was no power to engage the air bags! So the automakers took notice and redesigned the circuits such that an adequate amount of electrical current remains within the electrical system that can trigger the airbags even with a loss of battery power. So bottom line is, whenever you are doing upgrades that require cutting off the power (the NAV display + DVD install is another one that comes to mind), make sure you wait a few minutes!

Anyhow, to continue, upon disengaging battery terminal, pop off airbag (with a flat screwdriver in the case of the 2001+ steering wheel which is attached on a clip principle, and with a torx bit in the case of the 2000 steering wheel which is attached via bolts). Disconnect all 4 wires (relating to airbag and radio/cruise/telephone buttons). In the 2001 steering wheel, all 4 wires remain in the steeering wheel, while in the case of the 2000 wheel 2 of them are connected to the airbag. Unscrew the main steering wheel bolt (which then needs to be screwed back at precisely 80 NMs). Assembly in very simple reverse order.

What a difference in feel :wroom: . The new steering wheel is definitely beefier, and perhaps smaller in diameter (or it is just a psychological feeling). Feels like a go cart. Tremendous upgrade for a 2000 Beast and I highly recommend it. Net cost would be under $300 (net of an Ebay sale for the 2000 wheel + airbag which seems highly coveted) - IMHO is worth it! :M5launch:
 

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Yeah I felt it made a huge difference as well!, I did it around 6 months ago, Paid £200 for the wheel which was near brand new, though just plain stitching rather than tri-coloured (I actually prefer it) plus £160 for the airbag... and as you say the old steering wheels are very popular as I sold it for £350 on ebay :1: so less ebay fees a grand total cost of around £20 or so :wroom:

As for the diameter it was in my case anyway exactly the same.

-Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do it, Mike. DOOOO IT, as Starsky (or Hutch) say.

Seriously, get a new donut from Circle BMW (or Pacific in your case may be closer, but I think for steering wheels + airbags they don't ship - a BMW directive). I picked up mine in person for 340 bucks, brand new, of course with 1 yr warranty. One just sold today on Ebay off a 2003 M3 for 355 + shipping, so I guess most people don't know you there are ways to get it cheaper.

The airbag you can get also off Ebay, there are people that sell them brand new and sealed. I ended up swaping with my friends wheel just for the airbag, so right now I am auctioning his 3-spoke (non M) wheel. So whatever I get I take off the the 340, so that's you net investment. BTW, I also received an offer from someone to buy my old steerng wheel and airbag for $550, and looking at past Ebay auctions you can can expect to get that as well.

Trust me, I didn't think it was all that until I tried it on my friend's 2001 Beast. Big difference!
 

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Awesome!! Glad everything worked out okay. :cheers:

For any 2000 owners, the steering wheel upgrade to me is a night and day difference in feel and looks. Feels like a smaller diameter, but it's actually the same (the smaller air bag and spokes contribute to this I think), more cushioned grip and overall great feel.

cosioboy said:
Trust me, I didn't think it was all that until I tried it on my friend's 2001 Beast. Big difference!
I know exactly what you mean!! I always considered doing it but was on the fence, but a trip to the dealership and sitting in a used 02 gripping that wheel was all I needed to get it done as quickly as I could.
 

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dmz said:
The question is, will the new airbag work in accident??? I guess we may never know.
i'd think if there would be a srs fault if there was an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
mottati said:
i'd think if there would be a srs fault if there was an issue.
Yes, I agree - unless the SRS light is on, there shouldn't be an issue with the airbag deployment.

Mike, as an additional incentive (should you need any more ;-o), I found the new steering wheel to be of better 'cut', meaning that now I can see the full dashboard. With the old steering wheel, if you were to align the upper portion of the airbag to line up agianst your multifunction display, the top of the sterring wheel would actually be in the way of the upper part of the dashboard RPM and MPH rings. Now I have a clear and unintrusive vew of my full dashboard, glad to see BMW corrected that slight imperfection.
 
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